The joke goes that Cary is an acronym for the phrase Containment Area for Relocated Yankees. As a Yankee-born girl raised in the South (that's GRITS, y'all), I can both laugh at and appreciate the jest. Especially when I get ahold of some of Cary's Yankee-inspired food. The newly opened Bella Mia (2025 Renaissance Park Place, 677-3999, bellamiacoalfire.com) is Cary's first coal-fired pizzeria. Long Island native Rick Guerra, along with co-owner Steve Benjamin, sent their chefs (Guerra's sons Louis and Anthony) to train under Roberto Caporuscio, internationally renowned pizzaiolo and the American chapter president of the Associazone Pizzaiuoli Napoletani. Bella Mia's authentic Neapolitan pizzas, named after NYC streets and served alongside a full bar, are crafted with ingredients supplied by local farmers.
If you're reading this on Wednesday morning, head straight to the Raleigh Downtown Farmer's Market (godowntownraleigh.com/farmers-market). Celebrating grass-fed and pasture-raised food, the market hosts GrazeFest on June 23. The event highlights local farmers whose pastures serve as the basis of their product and the chefs who take that food from farm to table. Events include a mozzarella-stretching demo by Portia McKnight of Chapel Hill Creamery at 11:15 a.m., an EGGstravaganza for kids at 11:30 a.m., a cooking demo by chef Sarig Agasi of Zely & Ritz and an ice cream-eating contest featuring Lumpy's Ice Cream at 1 p.m. For $5, festival-goers can purchase a grass-fed lunch of grilled bratwurst prepared by Coon Rock Farm. The market is at City Plaza on the 400 block of Fayetteville Street.
For a sustainable agriculture lecture served up with a side of cheeky humor, don't miss famed Virginia farmer Joel Salatin's seminar "Local Food to the Rescue," June 30 at Central Carolina Community College (764 West St., Pittsboro, 542-6495, www.cccc.edu). Salatin and his Polyface Farms were featured in the movies Food Inc. and Fresh, as well as in Michael Pollan's best-seller The Omnivore's Dilemma.
When he appeared at Meredith College this past spring, the jovial Salatin had the audience in stitches as he made a case for why farming is hip. "To me, a hoop house is totally sexy!" he said. "You've got dancing, happily copulating earthworms and food to feed everyone without destroying the earth."
The seminar begins at 5:30 p.m. with a tour of the student farm, followed by refreshments and the lecture at 7. It is presented by the college's Natural Chef and Sustainable Agriculture programs, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association and North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. For more information, contact the college.
While you're on a farm kick, get to some toe tapping and farm-fresh eating on June 27 at the first in the monthly Taproot Farm and Music Summer Series at Duck Run Farm (334 Johnny Burke Rd., Pittsboro, 428-4653, www.duckrunfarm.com). The brainchild of farmer Keenan McDonald, Taproot combines a community dinner of fresh, local delicacies with a celebration of local music. The first event, from 6 to 10 p.m., is catered by Raleigh's Posh Nosh Catering with performers Tom Maxwell and Sarah Shook taking the stage overlooking the duck pond and farm. Tickets are $30, or $10 for music and one drink ticket. For more information, contact the farm.